Gender, Videos

Pink And Blue Weren’t Always Gendered Colors

February 21, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller

Pink and blue are colors that are commonly associated with gender in many Western cultures. Specifically, pink is widely considered to be a “girl color,” whereas blue is widely thought of as “boy color.” However, this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, historically, we didn’t associate these colors with a particular gender—and there was even a period not that long ago when some argued that pink was for boys and blue was for girls.

In the Origin of Everything video below, host Danielle Bainbridge walks us through the history of how we came to think of pink and blue as gendered colors. As she explains, if we look back to the 19th century, babies and small children were dressed very similarly regardless of whether they were boys or girls—they tended to wear white and most of them wore dresses. During that period of time, it wasn’t considered important to be able to look at a child and immediately determine its gender.

In the 20th century, however, everything changed—and the reason has to do, in part, with style guides and companies starting to push the idea that certain colors are for children of certain genders. However, the recommendations companies made weren’t consistent. In fact, some argued that pink is a “male color” because it is “decided and strong,” whereas blue is a “female color” because it is “more delicate and dainty.” This tells us is that the associations we hold between colors and genders are completely arbitrary and that things very well could have gone the other way!

To learn more, check out the full video below—it’s well worth a watch!

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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